By Elizabeth Gooding
I spent most of last week at Ricoh’s Interact conference in Denver and was truly impressed with the growth and changes. In past years, Interact was dedicated to Ricoh’s inkjet customers and prospects but in 2018, it expanded to all of Ricoh commercial and industrial print customers. The 2019 event was centered around four major areas covering inkjet, toner, wide format and supporting software and services:
- Business Development
- Print Solutions
- Operational Excellence
- Ricoh Process Director (RPD) User Group
Presenters included Ricoh subject matter experts, customers and industry analysts. Improving business by improving workflow was a unifying theme across all of these tracks and across production platforms. As I delivered one of the closing sessions, on workflow as it happens, I noted that the event seemed to parallel one of the slides I had prepared many weeks before.
I try to reinforce that the entire business process from acquiring customers, through all facets of production management, to billing and customer service is part of a well-designed workflow. Ricoh’s sessions thoroughly covered all of the aspects in this slide from sales management, estimating and through integration with billing and reporting.
Many sessions also emphasized the need for ongoing measurement and workflow refinement with multiple customers citing increased investment in data capture and analysis. The RPD track complemented this message with hands on sessions to help customers take advantage of the data available from their production processes.
In addition to the conference tracks, analysts and customers had separate opportunities to visit the Ricoh Customer Experience Center, see the latest production technology (such as the Ricoh Pro VC7000 covered previously) and speak with Ricoh executives. Gavin Jordan-Smith, who joined Ricoh in February as VP of the Commercial Printing Business, provided his perspective on “value chain enablement” for Ricoh and its customers. Echoing the theme of a complete and customer-centric workflow, Jordan-Smith described Ricoh’s services as “BtoBtoBtoC” because they must understand the needs of the Print Service Provider (PSP), the Brand/Customer that the PSP sells to and the end customer that receives the printed material.
I was pleased to see that Ricoh placed the focus on customer education and relationship building, rather than any hard sell of their equipment or services. Ricoh is investing in their customers through education and the Interact event is well worth the customers’ investment of time. In essence, they are following the best practices that they presented to customers in their business development track. By making it easy for customers to do business with them, they are making it easier to do business with customers.